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November 30, 2018


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Brian: Something is missing.

What does ‘core collection’ mean? This is a term of art open to confusion. If a core collection is like caffeine, then instant coffee and the finest coffees from the best roasters are equivalent.

Are the removals examples of clear-cutting or necessary thinning? What sits on the shelves is the tangible evidence many of us associate with a library. The library is where I go to seek in print what I do not have or do not want to purchase. People go to libraries for many reasons, and for some the library is a second (if not a first) home. A library is as much a refuge as it is a repository. Does the city or the library recognize how multi-faceted the library is as a community hub?

Libraries are more than just repositories (though a great repository is a characteristic of a great library). Clear-cutting a collection is similar to a lobotomy. I go to the library with a general object in mind. As I go to a bookstore, I go to the library as much to browse.

Think of what the word ‘browse’ as a verb means: ‘mid-15c., brousen, "feed on buds, eat leaves or twigs from" trees or bushes, from Old French broster "to sprout, bud," from brost "young shoot, twig, green food fit for cattle or deer," probably from Proto-Germanic *brust- "bud, shoot," from PIE *bhreus- "to swell, sprout”’.

A library is a place to ‘browse’. Books are the tangible buds, leaves, and twigs that libraries furnish for the nourishment of the community. It seems to me that what the library is seeking to do is substitute a loaf of Franz bread for what ought to be something from The Bread Board.

The library staff may argue that they are merely thinning, but this fails to explain why they appear to have eliminated the reference desk, which is where a patron goes to access the institutional knowledge of the library. Eliminating the reference desk seems to be evidence that the library is engaged in clear-cutting.

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